The Chester Yellowjackets will host the Carmi-White County Bulldogs on Friday in a Black Diamond Conference football game.
Chester (5-2) currently ranks second in the Black Diamond standings, only trailing undefeated Fairfield.
Carmi-White County (4-3) is in a three-man race for the third spot of the conference with Sesser-Valier-Waltonville and Eldorado.
Chester extended its winning-streak to four games after defeating Sesser-Valier-Waltonville in overtime last week 41-20. The Yellowjackets have suffered just one loss in four home games this season, as they look to add another win to the column this week.
“Every year our goal is to win the conference and be the best Chester team that we can be,” said Yellowjackets coach Billy Belton. “We’re a young team and I hope we’ve found where we are as a team.”
Chester was able to shut out Carmi-White County in last season's matchup 35-0. The Yellowjackets defense shut out the Vienna-Goreville football team a couple of weeks ago, and the defense has improved over the past four weeks.
“Our defense has played extremely well all year,” said Belton. “We’re right where we need to be and this is a big game for us this week with playoff berth implications.”
Carmi-White County hopes to play spoilers to Chester and make a run at a playoff berth as well. With a win this week the Bulldogs and Yellowjackets would sit tied in the conference standings.
“Chester is very athletic and playing their best football right now,” said Bulldogs coach Kurt Simon. “We will have to be very consistent in all three phases of the game and not miss tackles.”
Chester was able to snap a two-game losing streak with a 20-12 victory over Johnston City last week. The Bulldogs opened up the season 3-1, but leveled out after running into Fairfield and then Sesser-Valier-Waltonville.
“We had a few key injuries in the Johnston City game and right now just trying to get healed up for Friday,” said Simon. “Our first goal is to always win more than we lose; that usually means you’re playing a 10th game. We are in a position to do that right now.”
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Recovering from early-season injuries has been the main goal for Carmi-White County throughout the season.
While Chester is healthy and in a good place, they’re hoping to cut down on the turnovers and penalties that have been the Yellowjackets Achilles' heel all season.
“We know that Carmi-White isn’t going to hand us this game by turning the ball over,” said Belton. “They play hard and this is a big game for our seniors last night playing at home.”
Belton hopes to make Friday’s game as memorable as possible for his 10 seniors on roster.
“We get together with the seniors before every season to let them know that this is their team to run,” said Belton. Us coaches can only do so much, but they’ve done a great job of mentoring some of the younger guys and are a reflection of this team’s success.”
Both coaches know what their teams will be up against come Friday.
“Chester is very athletic and playing their best football right now,” said Simon. “I like our chances … just got to get healthy and finish the year out strong.”
“Carmi-White has a bunch of really good running backs and you can never tell which one of them will get the ball in the different formations they run,” said Belton. “The quarterback also runs the ball well. He runs behind a really big offensive front that we’ll also see on their defensive line.”
The Yellowjackets will travel to take on Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton in their final game of the regular season next week.
The Bulldogs will host Hamilton County at home next week to close out their regular season.